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Turkey's authorities must stop crackdown on HDP party and other political opponents

Date

06 Jul 2021

Sections

Global Europe

At the initiative of the Socialists and Democrats, the European Parliament is debating today the repression of the opposition in Turkey. In particular the S&Ds’ sister party - the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), the third-largest party in the Turkish parliament, has been increasingly targeted by the Turkish authorities for several years. As a result, thousands of party members, executives, MPs, local councillors and co-mayors have been tried on mainly terrorism-related charges.  

On 7 June, the Turkish Chief Public Prosecutor submitted a revised indictment to the Constitutional Court asking for the closure of the HDP party, and demanding a political ban of nearly 500 HDP politicians and a freeze on the party’s bank accounts, which was accepted by the Court unanimously.  On 17 June, Deniz Poyraz, an employee and member of the HDP was allegedly tortured and murdered in party offices in Izmir. Three HDP MPs, Leyla Güven, Ömer Faruk Gergerlioğlu and Musa Farisoğulları, have been stripped of their parliamentary seats and immunity, and subsequently arrested. Mr. Gergerlioğlu, despite having been exonerated by the Constitutional Court, has still not been released nor had his MP status restored. This adds to the continued detention since November 2016 of former HDP co-chairs Figen Yüksekdağ and Selahattin Demirtaş, opposition leader and former presidential candidate.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP), which is also an S&D sister party, is also experiencing gradually increasing pressure from the authorities, especially on its leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, including the request to lift his immunity on the basis of his political statements.

The Parliament will wind up the debate with a resolution voted on Thursday, calling on Turkish authorities to put an end to these attacks and to allow all political parties in the country to freely and fully exercise their legitimate activities.

Nacho Sánchez Amor, S&D MEP and European Parliament rapporteur on Turkey, said: 

 “We call on Turkish authorities to stop the crackdown on the HDP and other political opponents, including CHP. These repressive actions are part of the overall backsliding in human rights and rule of law and of the well-designed dismantling of the check and balances of the political system. The final aim is to suppress any critical space, whether in the civil society or the institutions, which have been reduced to a minimum expression following an authoritarian interpretation of the presidential system.  

“The strategy includes the misuse of a too broad anti-terrorism legislation, the recurrent use of revocation of the parliamentary status of MPs, the removal of democratically elected mayors and, most recently, a full offensive by prosecutors with multiple judicial cases. The goal is double: to close down the HDP and to politically ban the whole of its leadership in order to prevent any possible new party from being founded, as happened in the past, and the plan is to do it quickly: close to future elections so there is no time to react. It’s not only unlawful but also a huge political mistake.

“The European Parliament will continue to follow closely the situation, and insist with regard to the other EU institutions on the need of an improvement in the democratic situation in the country in order to advance in a positive agenda in the framework of the EU-Turkey relations.”

 

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